Waikato have announced their Mitre 10 Cup squad for 2019, just days before the competition kicks off, and there’s plenty for fans to get excited about.
Altogether, head coach Andew Strawbridge has named 17 new players for Waikato’s return to the Premiership.
Four of those newbies showed off their wares against international opposition during this year’s Under 20 World Championship.
First five Rivez Reihana, prop Ollie Norris and loose forwards Simon Parker and Samipeni Finau. Reihana, Norris and Parker all started in New Zealand’s final match of the competition in which the Baby Blacks thrashed Ireland 40-17 to secure 7th place.
Waikato have also brought in some excellent talent from outside the region in the form of Solomon Alaimalo, Taleni Seu and Api Naikatini. Unfortunately, Seu will miss the whole season due to a shoulder dislocation incurred during the Super Rugby season while Alaimalo will sit out at least the first half of the competition with a broken arm.
The remainder of the new recruits earned their places from strong showings in Waikato club rugby.
All Blacks Luke Jacobson, Anton Lienert-Brown, Damian McKenzie and Sevu Reece have been included but will play little to no part in the campaign.
The Mooloos will be able to call on the bulk of the team that secured the Championship trophy last season. Of the side that thrashed Otago in the final, only loose forwards Adam Burn and Jordan Manihera and reserves Sosaia Fale and Kylem O’Donnell won’t be back for 2019. Prop Toby Smith and second-rower Laghlan McWhannell will be sidelined for a significant period of the season with injuries, however.
93-cap veteran Dwayne Sweeney will again captain the side. Sweeney debuted for Waikato back in 2002 and is on track to become the province’s first centurion in 15 years. Give the state of the grassroots game in New Zealand, Sweeney could well be the last player to notch up 100 matches for Waikato – or for any province.
“We are pleased that we were able to retain bulk of the squad that helped us gain promotion back into the Premiership,” said Strawbridge.
“We know the new players that have been selected and the current group in the squad are hardworking men and are always looking to grow their game.”
Waikato kick off their season this Saturday with a match against last year’s losing Premiership finalists Canterbury.
2019 Waikato Mitre 10 Cup Squad
Tim Bond (11) Morrinsville Sports
Jahrome Brown (2) Melville
Hamilton Burr (*) Hautapu
Sam Cooper (*) Hamilton Old Boys
Samipeni Finau (*) Hamilton Old Boys
Haereiti Hetet (5) Otorohanga
Josh Iosefa-Scott 20) Melville
Murray Iti (23) Otorohanga
Luke Jacobson (10) Hautapu
Mitch Jacobson (37) Hautapu
Ayden Johnstone (21) Hautapu
Sosefo Kautai (21) Hamilton Marist
Sekope Lopeti-Moli (9) Hautapu
Laghlan McWhannell (13) Hautapu
Api Naikatini (*)
Ollie Norris (*) Hautapu
Simon Parker (*) Hautapu
Taleni Seu (*) Melville
Antonio Shalfoon (*) Te Awamutu Sports
Toby Smith (57) Hamilton Old Boys
Samisoni Taukeiaho (23) Fraser Tech
James Thompson (*) Hautapu
James Tucker (34) Hamilton Marist
Manawa Veitayaki (*) Otorohanga
Solomon Alaimalo (*) Hamilton Marist
Tyler Campbell (25) University
Matty Lansdown (22) Fraser Tech
Anton Lienert-Brown (19) University
Damian McKenzie (24) University
Brandon Mudzekenyedzi (*) Hautapu
Declan O’Donnell (34) Melville
Carlos Price (*) Hamilton Marist
Sevu Reece (33) Hamilton Old Boys
Rivez Reihana (*) Melville
Louis Rogers (*) University
Fletcher Smith (12)
Jack Stratton (11) Hautapu
Bailyn Sullivan (7) Hamilton Marist
Dwayne Sweeney (93) Morrinsville Sports
Raniera Takarangi (8) Hamilton Old Boys
Valynce Te Whare-Crosby (*) Fraser Tech
Newton Tudreu (*) Hamilton Marist
Quinn Tupaea (12) Hamilton Old Boys
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